DAFF will have to ‘pull up socks’ to meet Nene’s demands – Zokwana

Agriculture was singled out as one of the nine “strategic priorities” to be pursued this year when it comes to ensuring economic growth and job creation, according to finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in his 2015 budget speech.

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As outlined in the Estimates of National Expenditure, published by Treasury, over the next three years the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) would have to cultivate 120 000ha of underutilised land in communal areas every year, and increase irrigated agricultural land by 750 000ha.

The department was also expected to provide support to 145 000 smallholder and/or subsistence farmers per year, restore 30 500ha of degraded land through reforestation and land rehabilitation per year and create 70 000 jobs by 2018 through the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) and Ilima/Letsema-funded projects such as Fetsa Tlala.

All of this and more needed to be achieved with less money since the total allocation for DAFF was cut from R6,69 billion in 2014/2015 to R6,38 billion for 2015/2016 and to R6,34 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year.

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Agriculture minister Senzeni Zokwana told Farmer’s Weekly that Nene was not placing “undue pressure” on DAFF. But, he said, “we will have to pull up our socks to make sure that we do not disappoint the minister and the president.

“If we can succeed in finding new markets for our commodities we can create jobs and ensure food security – it is not an insurmountable task,” said Zokwana.